The North Cave Wetlands Green Woodpecker - the one that got away!
(c) 2009 Tony Robinson
I was asked at short notice if I could lead a bird walk around North Cave Wetlands to coincide with an open day operated by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. I should have been leading a walk around nearby Bunny Hill, but luckily for the YWT, there were not enough takers for it to run, so I was glad to help. The walk was planned for 1pm, so I arrived just after 12 to give me time to have a sausage sarnie c/o Angela at the Wild Bird Cafe. Apparently, a lot of people who were present in the morning may have been interested in the walk, but they couldn't hang around until 1pm. The sky looked a bit threatening at times, so we popped from hide-to-hide in case the heavens opened - they didn't! An afternoon in late-July is not the ideal time for a bird walk, but we also stopped off to identify butterflies, dragonflies, flowers and trees. From East hide we saw Oystercatchers, and Sand Martins; but we were a few seconds too late for the Green Woodpecker, and the Common Tern raft was empty. Between East Hide & Turret hide we saw the majority of butterflies, including: Painted Ladies, Meadow Browns, Small & Large Whites and Gatekeepers; whilst sharp-eyed Sam spotted a Small Copper. During this walk we were serenaded by several grasshoppers - non of them as bright as Mondays at another YWT reserve! From Turret Hide we saw plenty of Lapwings, Black-headed Gulls, a Little Grebe on at least 5 eggs, a Tufted Duck with 10 or so chicks, and plenty of rabbits. As we left Turret Hide a Black-tailed Skimmer posed for a fairly lengthy time on the wooden screens. We walked round to South Hide where we were able to see the extent of the latest excavations to the south of the car parking. There were many Lapwings in this area. From South Hide we saw a Moorhen on its nest on the raft, plus several more Oystercatchers. A Common Sandpiper flew round and round the lake unable to decide on a safe place to land. There were a pair of Great Crested Grebes, and 2 Pochards were having a bath, whilst another preened itself on the bank. Another Black-tailed Skimmer landed under the hide, but there were no Kingfishers on the perches! We were able to fill the 90 minutes with plenty of sightings, but we would have seen a lot more birds if the walk had taken place in the Autumn, in Spring or even in Winter. You don't really see North Cave Wetlands at it's species-density-best in late July!